Debo Band: Show Preview

Shawn Brackbill

If you've ever listened to the Éthiopiques collection — compilations of Ethiopian pop from the scene's late '60s to early '70s heyday — then the worthiness of the concept behind Debo Band should be self-evident. Since you probably haven't, let us explain: Before the 1974 coup that replaced Emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopian music was undergoing a renaissance. Catalyzed by a new, funky jazz sound that was partially influenced by the American soul and R&B of the era, and innovated by artists like Tilahun Gessesse and Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopia built a scene that rivaled the world-famous Afropop sounds coming from West Africa. To make a long story short, Debo Band is a sprawling outfit from the Boston area that works faithfully and tastefully in that tradition — but while adding its own Klezmer and other influences. Led by an Ethiopia native who was raised in the States, and having proven itself at festival performances in the country itself, Debo Band brings old Ethiopia to life in San Francisco this week.

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